11 November 2003

Workplace surveillance, hmm. I don’t think business expectations are keeping pace with the changing ways we communicate. Sure, you might designate email as for business use only. But how do you enforce that with a generation of workers for whom email has always been free (whether those old black-screen-white-text PINE accounts at Uni, or hotmail or whatever)? The same goes for phones. When offices had only one phone, it made sense that it was for business only. When every worker has two phones in front of them, they aren’t going to limit themselves. And if work provides the newspapers for you to read, who’s to say there’s any difference between reading the paper at work and reading something on the internet? Are they going to start blacking out all the stories that the ABC says are “not reasonable for personal use”?

Here is an interesting article about personal emails, which implies that anything written on a company email account is equivalent to a letter written on company letter head. Scary.

My etiquette bible, Women’s World 1958 says “the business girl should not write personal letters during business hours, nor write them on company stationery”. It also advises that should you be unfortunate enough to attract the undue attentions of your boss you should “firmly ignore them, but should he persist, you may have no choice but to resign your position”.

As for our Pauline, I have naught to say but this: I have been searching for years for adequate words to describe her, and read the perfect description the other day “old fashioned barmaid appeal”. Exactly. EXACTLY. She’s the barmaid at your local with the tough exterior and the heart of gold, reminding her constituents of the days when men had schooners in the front bar, women had shandies in the lounge, ladies had Bex and tea at home, and blacks had metho on the creekbed.

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